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Nationalism and Beyond: Introducing Moral Debate About Values [Hardcover]

By Nenad Miscevic (Author)
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Item description for Nationalism and Beyond: Introducing Moral Debate About Values by Nenad Miscevic...

Nenad Miscevi, Central European University, Budapest

Professor Miscevi is a member of the Steering Committee of the European Society for Analytic Philosophy, of which he was president until 1999. He has lectured as invited professor at various universities including CREA in Paris, the Institute for International Studies in Geneva, the Institute of Federalism in Fribourg, as well as at the universities of Memphis, Graz (Austria) and Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic).

This book is a readable introduction of the concepts and principles shaping the philosophical debate around nationalism. It provides portraits of two kinds of nationalists: the tougher type, more common in everyday life, and the ultra-moderate "liberal nationalist" encountered in academia. The author introduces a debate with a "thoughtful nationalist," one who defends the view that states should be organized around national culture and that individuals have basic obligations to their nation. The author attempts to answer his opponents standard arguments and presents a fully documented critique of his views. A passion born from Miscevis encounter with nationalism in the former Yugoslavia glows from every line of the argument. Questions raised and discussed include: Why is radicalism typical of nationalism? How successful is the nation-state? Does nationalism support liberal-democratic values? Is membership in a nation necessary for human fulfillment and for understanding values? Why might nationalism be immoral?

The book is unique not only because it explains a contemporary moral debate, in terms clear to the non-philosopher reader, but also because it has been written from the perspective of Central and Eastern Europe based on the authors personal experience.

"There is nothing quite like this book in the contemporary literature. It fills a salient vacuum and would make a fine contribution to a number of debates."- Philip Pettit, Professor of Social and Political Theory, Australian National University, Canberra

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Central European University Press
Pages   207
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.3" Width: 6.38" Height: 1.32"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Publisher   Central European University Press
ISBN  9639241113  
ISBN13  9789639241114  

Availability  0 units.

More About Nenad Miscevic

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Miscevic is Professor of Philosophy, U. of Maribor, Slovinia. He is also the President of the European Society of Analytic Philosophy.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Ethics & Morality
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Political
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > Practical Politics

Reviews - What do customers think about Nationalism and Beyond: Introducing Moral Debate About Values?

This is a highly original book. It is presented as a thoroughgoing and systematic reconstruction and revision of nationalist arguments. The "nationalist" is thus constructed as a "ideal type", imagined as a logically consistent theory endorsed by a rational person that is then refuted in a book-length argument.
Moreover, there are interesting examples taken from both Western and Eastern European intellectual history - a fact that will be informative for western readers and truly enlightening to easterners, enabling them to link and compare the standard examples which came mainly from western intellectual tradition with their own peculiar traditions. The style is simple and plain and the text provides with many examples - enough to make a good introductory text for nationalism scholars. It is therefore, not difficult to recommend it given the originality of the book as well as the virtual lack of any similar comparable source within the analytical tradition in philosophy. Unexplainably, the book is poorly referenced, and the claims and quotations of many authors are sometimes decontextualized, obscure and difficult to locate in their original form and place.
Miscevic argues, I think correctly, that nationalists find their most powerful argument for everything they do in: a) stressing the intrinsic value of culture and b) claiming that the nation is the (only or the most important) unit of cultural transmission/preservation, claim which justifies nationalist practices (at least the mildest ones) also from a ethical point of view. Nationalists act as they protect a "common good", a good which is embodied in a given national culture that is being preserved and transmitted by the members of the nation.
Now, this diagnosis is surprisingly correct, and typically never stated explicitly in the literature: "most curiously, in spite of the enormous amount of work it does, the nation as basic unit assumption is almost never explicitly discussed and defended in the nationalist literature ..." (p.144) The next move is obvious: since it is questionable if there exist at all a vehicle of cultural transmission and evolution (except from individuals - of course) than this type of monopoly claimed by nationalists is untenable. And the policies they implement are then (at least) detrimental and unjust for the common well being
The Author gives plenty of examples to show how highly ambitious this claim is: if we take any European artistic tradition then we will see that the similarities within a style adopted in very different nations are much greater than the similarities within the same national artistic tradition through time. So we are more entitled to speak about styles as meaningful and explanatory concepts for artistic culture than specific national traditions who at their best just add something recognizable to an already existing stylistic pattern.
The same then holds for ideas, philosophies, music, literature and, of course, ideologies. Following Miscevic, if we were able to prove it for the most typical objects of nationalist pride and concern than the whole moral appeal of nationalism even in its mildest forms is refuted empirically by looking into what de facto there is in a national culture and how it works.
The analysis of cultural traditions developed by Miscevic is accurate but incomplete. First, there is no awareness of what function performs an adoption of a particular style, technology or ideology within a social group such as the nation.
Second, I agree that cultures often arise by almost random picking of different elements, usually from neighbors. "The relatively easy birth of new traditions", as Miscevic puts it.(p.165) But when they are accepted they are transmitted as more or less coherent cohesive integrated pockets of information. Some of its parts could have also adaptive effects, but typically its supporters don't need to be aware of them. So it is still rational to defend and integrated cultural package which - as a matter of fact - in the modern history of Europe has been successfully embodied by the nation state (organized modern state with bureaucracy, semantic work, public mass education, democratization processes etc.). The fact that all of its bits came from abroad and were basically imitated or simply copied (religion, alphabet, renaissance, universal suffrage, Microsoft programs etc.) does not mean than within a specific national context and tradition it had a specific function (competitive edge over other groups, building a stronger sense of identity, differentiation from other groups etc.)
Think of some marginalized nations and their guerrilla movements like Kurds and Basques. They both have strong communist parties which in fact represent this nations and their struggle for (national) survival. Does it mean that there is nothing specific in their political traditions since this specific ideology was eventually created by two guys sitting in Berlin or Jena in the 1840s? Or is it maybe that communist ideology gave this groups a ready-made messianic extremist ideology that legitimized an open revolt against the state by means of violence that is perceived as oppressive -not least in terms of national oppression? Of course, you can be skeptical about a "success" of Kurds or Basques in any terms, both cultural and economical, but this only explains their frustration not the powerful emotional appeal that nationalism arises.
I think that the nationalist can still hold the argument about the intrinsic cohesion of cultures: the fact that its "rough stuff" was picked up around does not mean that its grip is lost.

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